The Power of Music

This is a lecture series presented by Third Age Learning Lakehead (TALL), a partnership between the Office of Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning and the Third Age Network.

Speaker SeriesMay 20 to June 17, 2020Wednesday9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Fee: $59 (plus hst)
Location:Online via Zoom

Sponsored by: 

Mariposa Folk Foundation logo 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

“Sounding Truth to Power: Listening to (and Learning from) Music as a Soundtrack for Change”


Can music change the world? Indeed, there’s a long and illustrious history of debate on this issue, and there are many compelling examples that reveal music’s role as a force for positive change, its capacity to act as an important vehicle for mobilizing movements for social justice, at home and around the world. Whether they’ve been talkin’ ‘bout a revolution, fighting the power, or saying (or playing) it loud, musicians—sometimes with words, sometimes without—have found compelling ways to sound off against systems of oppression, to use music as a soundtrack for resistance, change, hope, and direct action. In this session, we’ll listen to, and learn from, some of these sounds of change with a particular focus on jazz and improvisation.


Dr. Ajay Heble

Ajay Heble is the founding Director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), and Professor of English in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. His research has covered a full range of topics in the arts and humanities, and has resulted in 15 books published or in press, numerous articles or chapters, and over 100graduate students and post-doctoral fellows trained and mentored. He is the founding Artistic Director of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium, and a founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journalCritical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation ( He is also an improvising musician whose recent recordings can be heard on the Ambiances Magnétiques label. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

“Music Therapy: A Proactive Healthcare Model”


What is music therapy, and how can others implement aspects of music therapy for wellness? Music therapy is a self-regulated health care profession and music therapists work with all age groups and diagnoses.  Society’s current model for wellness is predominantly based on a reactionary model, but current research explores an alternative approach – proactive healthcare. Innovative new studies seek to answer the question, ‘How can music therapy be used to manage undergraduate students’ stress and anxiety?’ How can this data also inform proactive measures for all individuals? During this session, participants will not only learn about the importance of music therapy to health; they will also be provided with music-based tools that can be implemented for everyday wellness at home.

Rachael Finnerty

Rachael Finnerty has been practicing as a music therapist since 2001. She served as the president of the Music Therapy Association of Ontario 2010-2014 and was the recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award for Healthcare in 2015. A music therapy advocate, she has initiated over 30 music therapy programs, brought two music therapy courses to McMaster University, and founded the Music Therapy Academy. Rachael is currently completing her PhD in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

“Boundary Walking: Exploring Where Music Lives at the Edges”


In community music, it is often said that "the act of making music together is an act of hospitality–a welcome." However, for centuries, music as a high artform has been in the purview of the conservatories, cathedrals, and higher education institutions. Our research has demonstrated that people feel intimidated when asked if they are musicians, deferring to the formally trained performers or composers as the experts. The emergence of community music as a sub-discipline in the wider field of music education shines a new light on roles music has played since the dawn of time. In this webinar, we will explore where music does its powerful work as a means of enacting social justice, as a source of health and wellbeing, as a lifelong skill that welcomes intergenerational and multi-genre practices, and as a personal means of building bridges to others through participation in the making of music together.

Lee Willingham

Dr. Lee Willingham began his teaching career in a suburban high school and, upon completing his doctoral studies, was "seconded" to OISE/UT to prepare teachers for the classroom. In 2004 he joined Wilfrid Laurier University in the Faculty of Music, where he coordinates music education, choral music, and the graduate program in community music, and facilitates thriving partnerships with sister programs in UK, Ireland, and Germany. He is the co-author of Engaging in Community Music (2017) and editor of Community Music at the Boundaries (2020).

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

“From the High Arctic to Purgatory Cove: Adventures of a Canadian Musician”


Danny Michel's music reflects his appetite for adventure and care for the world in which we live, and whether he's recording on a Russian icebreaker with Chris Hadfield or raising money for the Ocean Academy in Belize, he's certain to find a story that speaks to diverse audiences. The genre of his music is also diverse, and his work has been labeled folk, pop, rock, and even classical. What influences a singer songwriter making choices about which stories to tell, and which music to tell them with? How do these songs become key components of environmental movements, like David Suzuki's Blue Dot Tour, and community builders, like Stuart McLean's The Vinyl Cafe? In this talk, Danny will not only share some of the experiences that have shaped him as a musician, but also some of the songs that have emerged from those experiences to change the world in which we live.

Danny Michel sits with his head and hands resting on a guitar

Danny Michel is an eclectic musician whose thoughtful lyrics and charming performances have earned a devoted fan base, multiple nominations for Junos, The Polaris Prize, and CBC’s "Heart Of Gold." Most recently, he was named the CFMA's "Producer of the year," and won the "Oliver Schroder Pushing the Boundaries" Award. But Danny considers his career highlights to be the unique real life moments like performing for Jane Goodall’s 85th birthday party, touring with Stuart McLean, and working with charities close to his heart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

"60 Years of 'Mariposa Moments': The Mariposa Folk Festival in our Community"


The Mariposa Folk Festival is a national cultural institution, known world-wide as a presenter of folk music as it has evolved over the last half century. Based in Orillia, it has become a key element not only of this city’s culture but of its tourism, economy and community cohesion. The festival has showcased many of the world’s great musicians – Joan Baez, John Prine, Ian & Sylvia, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Johnny Clegg and of course our hometown boy, Gordon Lightfoot. Offering an eclectic mix of music, dance, and crafts, the festival has become known for its innovative programming and its leadership in the arts community. Mike’s talk will centre on the history of the iconic festival and its importance to not only the culture of Orillia but to our national heritage.

Mike Hill

Mike Hill was born and grew up in Orillia. As an elementary school teacher, he taught for 15 years in Toronto and then another 16 in Orillia. He wrote a weekly “Trivia” column for the Toronto Star for over 30 years and published the book Super Quiz Canada. He also ghost wrote for Isaac Asimov, Pierre Berton and Charles Templeton. When the Mariposa Folk Festival returned to Orillia in 2000 he volunteered and became the festival organizing chair. Then, in 2007, he became the artistic director, responsible for hiring and scheduling the musical, dance and spoken word acts at the annual event. In 2017 he wrote and published the book The Mariposa Folk Festival: A History (Dundurn Press).